House makes blogging easy

Joining the blogosphere just got even easier for members of Congress. The House Administration Committee is offering the House Web Log Utility to allow offices to blog using their official Web sites.

House members have been blogging since 2004, but the new tool allows any office to develop and manage a page on its official Web site. Staff members may post information, which Web site visitors can comment on. Each office must assign one staff member to administer the blog, according to a letter distributed to members.

The tool provides a new way for congressional offices to connect with constituents, said Salley Collins, spokeswoman for the committee. The committee, in conjunction with the chief administration officer, initiated the blog effort in response to requests from members, she said.

Policies regarding the blogs will follow the same rules established by the Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards, known as the Franking Commission. Franking standards restrict the inclusion of biographical material, political campaign information, solicitations and lobbying in mass mailings from congressional offices.

Although there are security features, members of Congress are ultimately responsible for the content on their Web sites, and the blogs will be no exception, Collins said. There won’t be a central blog, she said, but the content of each blog will be indexed and available on the main Web site, House.gov.

Congressional sites vary between Unix and Microsoft Windows-based Web platforms so it was important that the blog tool run independently and be easily portable between those platforms, she added.

Some members of Congress who have already taken advantage of the tool include Reps. Michael Conaway (R-Texas), Paul Gillmor (R-Ohio) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.).

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